Roger Bisby takes to the roof with Seal-a-Leak from Icopal
A few years ago I went down to Ashford in Kent to look at a church roof being sprayed with Sealoflex. There was an on-going problem with lead theft in the area, and the church, not wanting to use the deterrent of razor wire, decided to deliver them from temptation by covering the roof with new plywood, and applying a coat of this wonder liquid membrane.
It was sprayed on in a day and was said to be good for ten years, after which it would just need a light rub down and another coat, but even that was not the first time I had seen it.
A couple of years prior to that I had helped to apply it to an extension roof on the south coast. All this is by way of telling you that this is my third brush with the product. The reason this product hasn’t been a mainstream stock item
is more to do with marketing and distribution. It is hard to get stocked in many merchants if you are not selling a whole range.
Hence this very same product has now been packaged up as an emergency repair kit, and is produced by Icopal under the name of Seal-a-Leak. I would imagine that part of the idea is to get the product into builders’ hands and build confidence in it. If it works on a small area then it must work on a larger area.
In the two tubs you get a small pot of primer for asphalt and timber and a sheet of the non-woven polyester membrane, which you paint into the first coat.
This is a scaled down version of the products used on the church roof. In many ways the process is similar to GRP, but without the restriction of a two-pack and, unlike GRP, it makes a perfect seal for tired and leaking felt roofs. You can also use it in wet weather.
The polyester membrane can be cut up with scissors to do a smaller area, and the remaining liquid is good for roughly a year, so if you only have to repair a small tear or hole you can hang onto the rest of the tub. The idea of the kit is very much about the emergency repair and they even say in the instructions that it is temporary.
From the builder’s point of view it could not be simpler. Grab a brush or roller, and a pair of scissors, and you are in business. Naturally you need to clean the roof and apply the primer where required. The rain came down on the job I
did about half an hour after I had finished and it didn’t cause the slightest problem. What is more the customer reported that it seemed to have done the trick.
The particular roof I was called out to was one of those jobs which was a complete cock-up from start to finish. The joists were over-spanned, the plywood deck was a mere 12mm of shuttering ply, so it bounced like a trampoline, and the fixings were 4in. wire nails, several of which had already worked their way up through the felt in the two years it had been down. Add to that the fact that they had used one base layer of torch on, and no solar reflective cap sheet or solar reflective paint.
What happens in the long term is still up for debate, but for now the customer just wanted to keep the rain out and get through the winter. Seal-a-Leak proved to be the perfect product for such a small repair. It took less than half an hour to complete the job and I was on my way. That is just the kind of job I like.